Operation Mockingbird

Operation Mockingbird by Linda Baletsa Page B

Book: Operation Mockingbird by Linda Baletsa Read Free Book Online
Authors: Linda Baletsa
global image as a statesman and a reformer.”
    “A campaign led by IMS.”
    “You got it. Rumor has it that the President of Syria paid this firm big bucks to try and portray him as a transformative leader instead of the oppressive dictator he is.”
    “Okay, I’m impressed.”
    “Where are you going with this?” Alex asked after a short pause. “What does this have to do with Bob?”
    “I’m not sure,” Matt conceded. “I’m just sifting through the information in his journal.”
    “Okay,” she said. “But, Matt, promise me you’ll call me if you need anything else. I’d like to help.”
    Hanging up with Alex, Matt tried to figure out how this new information could tie into Bob’s death. It was Matt’s experience that PR firms were zealous advocates for their clients – in many cases, overzealous to the point of annoying, but definitely not murderers.
    As Matt was leaving the library, he was assaulted by the aroma of one of Miami’s well-known population segments. The homeless. In light of its warm climate, Miami had always had a large homeless population. That had only increased since the unemployment rate had skyrocketed, the real estate boom several years ago had eaten up all theaffordable housing, and public assistance had been reduced to negligible levels. At night the homeless slept in shelters and encampments scattered throughout downtown. During the day, they wandered the streets of Miami, swathed in every piece of clothing they owned. Unbathed homeless people wrapped in layers of unwashed clothing, baking in the Miami heat was not a winning combination.
    During business hours on the weekdays, the homeless regularly frequented the local public libraries, taking advantage of the free admission and air-conditioning. It was difficult for municipalities to balance protecting the rights of the homeless who had no place else to go and the rights of the general population to enjoy public places unmolested. The City of Miami had fought that battle and lost. The homeless were permitted to enjoy the cool indoors and free literature, and the others just had to accept it.
    As he walked through the crowd, several people reached out to him asking for spare change. Matt averted his eyes and kept walking. A long-haired man was particularly aggressive and stepped in his path. Matt brushed past him. He glanced around, avoiding any form of eye contact. Yet, the man’s tattered T-shirt caught his eye. “Fuck your fascist concept of beauty,” it screamed. Matt couldn’t resist a small smile as he shifted his gaze back to the ground and continued walking.
    The homeless guy kept pace and extended his hand. A universally understood gesture.
    “No, sorry,” Matt said without breaking stride. Undeterred, the man followed, that insistent hand still hanging out there.
    “I’m in a hurry,” Matt said veering off toward the stairs on the opposite side of the plaza leading down to street level.
    From a brief glance the man looked vaguely familiar but many of the homeless had been living on the streets and hanging out at the same locations for several years. Matt was a regular fixture at the library when he was working downtown. He had probably seen this guy before, possibly given him some spare change.
    So Matt did the only thing that worked in these situations. He reached into his pocket. Still avoiding the man’s eyes, he proffered everything he dug up – a crumpled dollar bill, several coins and some lint. Much to Matt’s surprise, however, the guy wouldn’t take it. He must be one of the many mentally unstable people that lived on the streets, Matt thought. He gave up, shoved the contents back into his pocket and pushed past.
    The man kept pace and tried to place a piece of paper in Matt’s hand. Now Matt was back on familiar territory. A flyer from a local business.
    “No, thanks, but here.” Matt again attempted to hand over the contents of his pocket.
    “Please, take this. It’s the word of the

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